John Addington Symonds: A comprehensive analysis of how JA Symonds used his work to try and make the lives of homosexuals in England in the nineteenth and early twentieth century better.
In English queer history, no time has been more known for its repression and cruel treatment of homosexuals than the nineteenth century. In none of the centuries before or after were so many men tried and convicted for the ‘unnatural crime’. Punishments ranged from the pillory to exile and at worst a death sentence. The severity of the punishment the men received varied greatly depending on which social class they belonged to in society. The structure of the criminal justice system in regards to homosexuality, which was formed for a large part during this era, would stay in place until the Sexual Offences Act would come into force in 1967. It was only a little over a century earlier that they abolished the death sentence in regards to sodomy, making it a statutory rather than a capital offence. John Addington Symonds, a poet, historian, but most of all a homosexual, lived during these troubled times. Using his skills as a writer, he tried on more than one occasion to bring about a better understanding of men who suffered under these laws, and to create wider acceptance of ‘the love that dare not speak its name’. In this paper a comprehensive analysis will be given of some of his most interesting pieces or work about the subject, and why they are so important.
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